Reports from The News in Portsmouth suggest that Gary O’Neil, currently a free agent, has his eyes set on a return to Fratton Park where he was a regular starter during Portsmouth’s Premier League era.
The 35-year-old spent the last two seasons at Bristol City but was released following the recent campaign. He made 36 appearances for the club but has since expressed his desire to move back to the south coast.
O’Neil came up through Portsmouth’s youth system and went on the make 191 appearances in 7 years at the club. He then made the move to Middlesbrough but has since said that he felt he left Portsmouth ‘slightly too early’.
Eager to return to the club in some capacity, O’Neil stated ‘if Portsmouth said to me ‘come and play for us’, they would be the one team I would even consider turning down Championship clubs for.’
During his first spell at Pompey, he became the youngest player to represent the club. Having just turned 35 in May, O’Neil has been quoted saying that ‘Once you get to 35, nobody wants you. That’s what it is like and it has surprised me’.
Despite having a hamstring injury which cut his last season at Ashton Gate short, the midfielder has voiced his frustration at the lack of interest that players of his age are attracting and believes that he still has a lot to offer.
O’Neil told The News in Portsmouth that he has been working hard to keep himself fit over the summer period. ‘I’m in good shape and trying to make sure I am ready to go when someone needs me.’
There is no doubt that O’Neil is eager to find a club over the next few weeks. The question is will Portsmouth be the club that is willing to take the plunge.